How can I keep my babies safe in this world?

Every night I check on my sleeping daughters before I go to bed. My eyes carefully watch their chests so I am reassured that they’re breathing. I stare at their closed eyes for a few moments to be sure they’re in a deep sleep.

And then as I look at their peaceful bodies slumbering, each night I silently utter the same words over their little heads. I’m not sure if it’s a prayer, a hope, or a desperate plea. But whatever it is, I ask whoever is listening to please, please, please keep my babies safe and happy and healthy. To never let anything horrible or terrible happen to them. To help them live long lives filled with joy and peace.

I watch my sleeping girls and I swear to them that I’ll never let anything truly awful ever happen to them, even though I know in my heart that I can’t really promise this. I know that I can’t protect them every second of every day and keep them safe, always and forever.

But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to.

I feel like my nightly ritual has become more fervent as my girls grow older and the world seems to grow colder. Each news story of tragedy befalling children or young girls scars my heart. And every time I hear of something awful, my nightly words for my girls get a little more desperate.

Please don’t let something like Sandy Hook happen in their school. Please don’t let anything like Stubenville happen to them. Please don’t let them get in a car accident, or a swimming accident, or a lured away by a stranger. Please, please, please don’t let them experience horrors that I can’t even voice inside my head.

I harbor these fears, but at the same time I am a level-headed person. I know I can’t allow the evils of the world weigh my heart with so much fear that I can’t let my girls experience life. I know I have to teach my daughters to be careful, raise them well, and let them go forth into the big wide world.

I know these things. I am reasonable. But I’m also the mother of two little beings whom I love fiercely and unconditionally. And even if it doesn’t make logical sense, I’m always going to worry about bad things happening to my good little people.

My challenge – perhaps all parents’ challenge – is to find that space between emotion and reason. I need to have a healthy awareness of the things that could happen, but not be paralyzed by fear of the possibilities.

So I will keep praying in the face of terrible news headlines that nothing horrible happens to my girls.

And at the same time I will keep educating them so they are smart and prepared and armed with knowledge that will help them make good decisions and protect themselves as they grow.

I will make it clear to my girls that they can talk with me and their dad about anything and will keep those communication lines open, even when they are teenagers and obviously know everything about everything already.

Eventually I will need to let my daughters go and make their ways through the world as young adults. But all the while, I’ll be praying over their heads while they’re sleeping, no matter how old they grow or how far away from me they sleep. Because I’ll always be their mommy who yearns to keep them safe and happy and healthy. Forever.

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Comments

  1. says

    I know the feeling, JD. It’s both humbling and crippling to be so dependent on two little people. I do everything I can to create a world in which they can be “happy and healthy and safe.” (Seriously, we say those very same three words nightly in their prayers. In a slightly different order.) And I tell myself that motherhood is like air travel. Every day, thousands upon thousands of planes take off into the air and rarely is there ever a problem. Unfortunately, when it DOES happen, it sticks in the front of your brain forcing you to confront your fears head-on. It is then that I try to remember how lucky I am to be counted among the unaffected masses. And then I go hug my babies. And maybe give them a little for-no-reason treat. :)
    OldDogNewTits recently posted… Ketchup With Us #14My Profile

  2. Jess McCombs says

    Fabulous post! I too do the same thing with my boys,
    Even more so now that they're soon to be 5
    And his brother is 7… I was hoping I wasn't crazy
    For doing this each night…

  3. says

    I have this same feeling with my three. I remember after Sandy Hook my 14 year old said to me, nothing like that could ever happen where we live, could it mom?” It was the first time that I ever felt like I lied to him when I said no. But like you, I know I can’t live in that fear. I remind my kids and myself that the good always out weighs the bad!

    Thank you for your post!
    Kathy Radigan recently posted… 10 Healthy Foods You Should Always Have in Your Refrigerator by Groovy Green LivinMy Profile

  4. says

    Thanks for this post. I do the same thing (the prayer is even in the same order: safe and happy and healthy). I find I have to check on them and say this quickly, because I’m afraid the anxiety will overcome me and I’ll start to sob right there in their little dark rooms (and then there’s no falling asleep after that!).
    My husband doesn’t do this, he can just check on them and think they are cute and fall asleep with no problem. I thought I was the only one who did it! Thanks for telling me otherwise. ;)

  5. says

    I pray this all the time too. Oh lord, what will I do? And I know I am missing my life and theirs if all I do is worry. I have no idea how to keep kids safe. It’s terrifying.

  6. says

    I am not a religious person, and yet… Every single night, as I check on their sleeping bodies I say the same mantra over and over. “Please keep my babies safe. Please let them live long lives full of love and joy and happiness. Please don’t ever let anybody hurt them, and please don’t ever let them know real fear.” Over and over, every night since they were born.

    The world we live in is full of such beauty and such peace, but it’s impossible to ignore the darkness that exists, particularly when it seems to be so centered around children.

    Glad to know I’m not the only one.
    Amy recently posted… 20 Wishes for 2013 UpdateMy Profile

  7. says

    That was so well said, JD. It’s so hard to find the balance between emotion and reason sometimes. Since Sandy Hook happened my perception of “reasonable fear” changed. Never before that would I have carried that worry, but now I do. The question is, how do we channel it into prevention while managing to avoid the paralyzing fear of it all?
    Lori recently posted… Luke-ismsMy Profile

  8. says

    I know how you feel. I go to check to make sure my little one is breathing too. I have been doing it less often now that he is older, but it is a constant fear.
    Raine recently posted… Bad DayMy Profile

  9. says

    “My challenge – perhaps all parents’ challenge – is to find that space between emotion and reason.” So perfect. That’s exactly what I strive for, and sometimes miss, every day. I do the same thing every night – make sure she’s breathing and pray. For me, it’s all about letting go of the myth that I can control anything about the outside world. And being grateful every morning for another day with my healthy and happy child. Beautiful post!
    Amanda recently posted… St. Patrick’s DayMy Profile

  10. says

    These are the same thoughts that plague me. I have struggled with PPD and the thought of not being ale to protect my child every second as she grows is crippling. My daughter is almost two and loves on everyone…even complete strangers. I’m now in a panic on how do you teach stranger danger without breaking your kid’s loving spirit??? How do you educate but not scare them??

    • says

      I’ve been through that too. As my kids have gotten older, I’ve explained to them that as long as I am right there, they can talk to strangers. I think in some situations they feel safe, like at the playground, so they think nothing of going up to the mommy with the small baby or the old men chatting on a bench. I have had to teach my 3 year old to not ask strangers for their food; she has no fear at all. Now that I think about it, I recall my son at 1/12 going up to perfect strangers and grabbing food out of their hands. I was embarrassing to say the least, but most people are tolerant of small kids and no one ever got upset.
      My kids are still too young to go anywhere alone so I haven’t yet reached the point of having to warn them about the dangers of being alone. I don’t look forward to that.
      Mercy recently posted… Then and NowMy Profile

  11. Amy C. Ragg says

    I don't think that ever goes away. At least I hope it doesn't. I am an auntie and a teacher and an auntie who loves them all like they are my own, and is overcome with those fears some days, too. Those days remind me to tell every child every day how special, how important, how valued, and how loved he or she is. My parents still do it for me, and still go to bed every night with every though, wish, prayer you just described for their girls and their grandson.
    Thank you for always writing so honestly and eloquently.
    Be well.
    Peace, light, and love.

  12. BettyRants says

    I don’t think that ever goes away. At least I hope it doesn’t. I am an auntie and a teacher and an auntie who loves them all like they are my own, and is overcome with those fears some days, too. Those days remind me to tell every child every day how special, how important, how valued, and how loved he or she is. My parents still do it for me, and still go to bed every night with every though, wish, prayer you just described for their girls and their grandson.
    Thank you for always writing so honestly and eloquently.
    Be well.
    Peace, light, and love.

  13. says

    My worst fear and joy is having a girl to raise. I have been through almost everything you can imagine. Yes, the “r” word. I don’t even want to spell it. It is my biggest fear happening to her. I’ve never even talked to my mom about it because I was older when it happened. I’ve told my husband, but to full on let your parents know their worst fear happened is too hard. I will protect, arm, and teach what is ok and what is not ok. I don’t ever want anything to happen to my daughter, and will do everything to protect her. Thank god we live in a different time. It may seem more dangerous, but I believe it’s just more known. Protect and teach your kids. Both boys and girls. Sometimes no one else is.
    Kari recently posted… PerfectionMy Profile

  14. says

    I’ve checked my kids to make sure they were still breathing almost every time they are sleeping since they were born. I think it is something mothers need to do. I remember freaking out the first time each of my babies slept through the night. I’d wake up and wonder if they were still alive.
    All these things scare me too, but I have to force myself to not worry. If I allow even a little worry, I panic, and then it goes downhill from there. I wish it were possible to wipe out the evil so we would never have to worry about the safety of our children.
    Mercy recently posted… Then and NowMy Profile

  15. says

    You never know what it is to worry until you have children. I was told this before, and I did not understand, because you just can't. It's a neat power the brain has, to shut out all the worries enough to let you sleep at night.

  16. says

    I wish there was a way to keep them in a bubble. As a homeschool mom, sometimes I’m accused of “sheltering” my kids. you’re damn right, I am. And I’m fine with that. However, I can’t keep them from all the evil in the world. It doesn’t matter where they go to school, what profession they choose, or where they go in life. We just can’t keep them safe. But, God can. When I feel like this, I have to let go and trust that God loves my babies even more than me. After all, he’s just letting me borrow them. It’s tough to stop worrying though.

  17. says

    Girl – I know this mantra all too well – Please keep them safe, please not their school, please don’t let this happen that happen – this that…that this..
    Take comfort in knowing you live each day to its fullest and show them the joy – and then somehow we’ll have that to fall back on – that we gave our best, loved our hardest, and lived to the fullest.
    You’re not alone …we all hold hands in hopes for a better future for our babies…xo

  18. Kelly Laurence Bishop says

    I loved this post! After reading it I just went back into my daughters room to check on her and say a little prayer! I feel the same after hearing all the negativity in the news this day. I wish the world was more peaceful for our babies!

  19. Kristin VanderHey Shaw says

    This is so hard, the letting go, little by little. I am not a free range parent by any means, but I try not to hover, either. Great post, JD.

  20. says

    Hello there, what a beautiful terrible truth. I myself have the same fears. As I was reading your post it was as if you had taken the words right out of my mouth. I thoroughly enjoy the way that you write. You are actually the first blog post that I do follow and get a notification when you publish a new post. I myself blog and have read many blogs but can honestly say I enjoy yours the most. For the reason being reading your material is as if I am speaking to you in person, I tend to do the same. I write as if I were speaking. So I would like to thank you for sharing the way that you do.
    Sincerely,
    Jessica

  21. says

    My husband and I were just talking about this very subject. It's very scary knowing that you can't protect your children from all of the horror in the world. My goal, which probably is the same for a lot of parents. Is to prepare them for the challenges, but also strive to also see the good in the world too. Our kids can be the ones to change the world for the better, though it sucks that there will always be the bad, to even it all out.
    Heather

  22. Miranda says

    I pray and wish that my children will be safe, happy, and healthy all the time. I always check on them at night to feel their warm breaths and to feel their little heartbeats. I’m afraid to let them go and to see the bad that is out there. I’m worried if we go in a mall and my 11 year old son goes to the bathroom and takes a second too long. I’m forever worried for my beautiful children. I know this will never go away for as long as I’m living <3

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